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Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age: A Complex Proposition

Monday, December 17, 2012

With Americans living longer, some policymakers are proposing to gradually raise Medicare’s eligibility age from age 65 to 67 as part of a broader package to reduce the federal debt. The later starting point is projected to reduce federal spending by $113 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that most people would gain insurance coverage through other sources.

Changes to the eligibility age raise important questions that the briefing addressed. How would this change affect costs for 65 and 66 year olds who would no longer be eligible for Medicare? What would be the impact of costs for others who stay on Medicare, and for younger adults who get their coverage through the exchanges? Would costs also rise for employers if workers remain on the job longer? How would the change affect the workforce and the overall size of the economy?

A distinguished group of panelists offered insight into these and related issues:

Juliette Cubanski, associate director, Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, will discuss Kaiser’s updated report examining the expected effects of raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67.

Gail Wilensky, senior fellow at Project HOPE, and a former Medicare and Medicaid administrator, will assess the economic impact of increasing the eligibility age and the expected effect on federal spending.

David Certner, federal policy director at AARP, who previously served as chairman of the ERISA Advisory Council at the Department of Labor, will highlight the main concerns of 65 and 66 year olds, as well as those on Medicare.

Paul Dennett, senior vice president for health reform at the American Benefits Council, which represents Fortune 500 companies, and a congressional staff veteran, will address projections that raising the eligibility age could have a significant impact on the business community.

Ed Howard of the Alliance and Tricia Neuman of Kaiser will co-moderate the discussion.

This forum took place on Monday, December 17, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G50.


 Ed Howard, The Alliance for Health Reform, Moderator
 Tricia Nueman, Kaiser Family Foundation , Moderator
 Juliette Cubanski, Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, Speaker
 Gail Wilensky, Project HOPE, Speaker
 David Certner, AARP, Speaker
 Paul Dennett, American Benefits Council, Speaker
 Q&A, The Alliance for Health Reform , Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/17/2012
Full Webcast/Podcast: Full Webcast

The full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Cubanski Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/17/2012
Certner Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/17/2012
Neuman Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 12/17/2012

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/17/2012
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/17/2012
Selected Experts List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/17/2012
Materials list (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 12/17/2012

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Reforming Medicare Option: Raise the Medicare Eligibility Age (Adobe Acrobat PDF),AARP, 6/1/2012
Raising the Medicare Eligibility a First Step Toward Deficit Reduction, U.S. News and World Report, 12/6/2012
Entitlement Reform for the Entitled, The New York Times, 5/20/2012
Should the Eligibility Age for Medicare be Raised?, The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/2012
Raising the Ages of Eligibility for Medicare and Social Security, Congressional Budget Office, 1/1/2012
Who Relies on Medicare? Profile of the Medicare Population (Adobe Acrobat PDF),AARP Public Policy Institute, 7/1/2012
Raising the Age of Medicare Eligibilty: A Fresh Look Following Implementation of Health Reform (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Kaiser Family Foundation, 7/1/2011
Reforming Medicare in the Age of Deficit Reduction. Summary of Position Paper Approved by the ACP Board of Regents (Adobe Acrobat PDF),American College of Physicians, 4/1/2012
Directions for Bipartisan Medicare Reform, The New England Journal of Medicine, 3/22/2012
Raising Medicare's Elibility Age Would Increase Overall Health Spending and Shift Costs to Seniors, States, and Employers, Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, 8/23/2011
Don't Raise the Medicare Eligibility Age, Slate, 12/5/2012


As people live and work longer, it makes sense to increase the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67, Gail Wilensky, a former Medicare administrator, said at a Dec. 17 briefing, Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age: A Complex Proposition. (Photo by James Ryder)

Speaking out against raising Medicare's eligibility age, AARP's David Certner said at a recent briefing that Medicare beneficiaries aren't as well-off as people think, and that many 65 and 66 year olds would have to pay more for other coverage. He spoke at a Dec. 17 briefing, Raising Medicare's Eligibility Age: A Complex Proposition (Photo by James Ryder)

Increasing Medicare’s age of eligibility would keep many 65 and 66 year olds in the workforce, Paul Dennett of the American Benefits Council  said at a Dec. 17 briefing, Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age: A Complex Proposition. (Photo by James Ryder)

Increasing Medicare’s eligibility age to 67 would affect 5 million beneficiaries, and 66 percent of them would pay an average of $2,200 more, while 31 percent would pay about $2,300 less out-of-pocket for coverage, Juliette Cubanski of the Kaiser Family Foundation said at a Dec. 17 briefing, Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age: A Complex Proposition. (Photo by James Ryder)


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